12 July 2009
In The Mosh-PitParis. Show 2.
Word came down that the band weren't going to sound check today, so I put off my departure for the venue until 3pm. This gave me the chance to meet some friends for lunch – they'd been at the gig last night but I'd barely seen them (as is not untypical of my show days) so it was very pleasant to catch up. Lunch, stroll by the Seine, all good.
Everything was pretty mellow at the venue which is a good sign. I don't want to speak too soon but the tour does seem to be settling down a little. There are still some big milestones to come - Berlin to Amsterdam is our first one-day move which will be a screaming mad rush, and then on to Dublin involving many trucks and not enough ferries. Today, however seemed relatively calm.
Come dinner time I went up to catering by myself and joined the queue. As we were bending over the dishes of rather splendid food, I noticed that the gentleman in the straw trilby in front of me was Woody Harrelson. Well I never. In front of him was Javier Bardem and in front of him was Penelope Cruz. Honestly, you wait all day in catering for an Oscar nominee to come along and then three arrive at once. And two winners, to boot.
During the show I made a point of watching from all over the building. Partly because of things having settled down a little so I'm freer to wander than I was for the first few shows, and also because access around this building is much easier than in previous venues. I particularly wanted to spend a good amount of time around the back (or 'twelve o'clock' as we call it, given that the traditional notions of 'upstage' and 'downstage' are a little vague in this set up), in order to understand what it's like to see the show from there - diametrically opposite to my 'home' position. There's a new bridge move cue in 'Boots' so I stayed at the mix position until that had happened successfully and then went hiking. My first stop was the very top tier, twelve o'clock, way up high. I got there during Magnificent and stayed through Beautiful Day into Mysterious Ways. Mysterious Ways was added tonight for the first time and given the rapturous reception it got, I'm sure we'll see it again. I was very pleased with how the show felt from up there and if standing on chairs dancing is an indication of Parisians having a good time, then I'd say they were enjoying it.
From there I made my way down to the lowest seats behind the stage where I saw the acoustic section. In truth this isn't where you'd choose to sit if you had options but I was surprised and delighted to see that the people here were also clearly having a great time, with unified cheers going up every time a band member came round the rear ramp.
Having explored the grandstands I decided to go for the jugular and watch the next chunk of the show from in the mosh-pit. I confess to not having set foot in the inner circle since rehearsals and to see the show from there is an entirely different experience. It's almost comical how the entire stage production becomes almost irrelevant with such immediate proximity to the performance. In the mosh-pit however, there is also a startling proximity to one's fellow man, which makes for a decidedly 'intimate' experience. It's funny, with normal gigs if you want to get out of the crush, you'd naturally move backwards, but here you have to move sideways. There's as much lateral movement in that part of the crowd as there is back and forth. It's a very high energy situation particularly as I made a point of being there for 'Crazy' when the whole place really does take on the feeling of a dance party. At a U2 show - extraordinary!
Having sweated enough I headed back to the relative calm of the mix position, very pleased to find that even though the experience of this show is very different when viewed from different parts of the building, it is a genuinely good experience wherever you are. Even right at the back of the field (six o'clock), up by the mix, where it must be the hardest to see, people had room to dance and generally carry on and the video screen brings the performance right to you. There were a lot of people having a lot of fun.
During 'Moment of Surrender' I picked up my bag and scuttled off to join the 'runner' to the airport and on to Nice. Long days, late nights.